Spurs under 18’s 2-2 Stoke city: (match report)

Spurs under 18’s 2-2 Stoke city: (match report)

“We had an awful lot of very, very good opportunities, especially in the first half when we played really well into a breeze. In the second half we had some pretty amazing misses and some pretty bizarre goals conceded so it’s a bit frustrating, although I’d rather it be frustrating in that we created chances and missed them than not creating anything in the first place.” (John McDermott)

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Our under 18’s were back in league action today as they drew 2-2 with stoke city in their first game of the merit group stage, at Hotspur way. John McDermott’s side which was missing a couple of important players through internationals, battled well against a very physical opposition, despite their first half dominance Spurs couldn’t finish off the potters, and their tenacity in the second half ensured that the points were shared. Spurs started the game brightly as they went in search of the opener, and they took the lead just 12 minutes in to the game through winger Keanan Bennetts. The pacy Bennetts embarked on a surging run down the left, beating his man with ease before whipping a wonderful cross into the box which Stoke city’s James Butler turned intp his own net, 1-0 to Spurs. Moments later Spurs doubled their advantage, McDermott’s side were relentless and were hungry for their second. Striker, Kazaiah Sterling burst down the right wing, before playing the ball back into the path of Jamie Reynolds, who fired the ball home with a deftly accurate finish. Spurs were totally outplaying Stoke and seemed destined to go on a goal scoring rampage. Watched on by Mauricio Pochettino, the Lillywhites came desperately close to getting their third on 19 minutes, when Reo Griffith’s powerful low effort hit the post, with the ball coming back to Sterling whose effort was blocked emphatically by Butler. Spurs continued to press Stoke, Bennett’s forcing a fine save out of Allen before Griffiths went close with a header.

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Despite all of Spurs’ quality attacking play, they allowed the visitors a way back into the game on 36 minutes, after Tyrese Campbell capitalised on Duncan’s poor back pass, the forward clinically slotting the ball past Austin from close range. Stoke’s newfound confidence saw them push for an equaliser before half time, and they weren’t to far from achieving that goal through Campbell, but for the excellent defending of Skipp and Brown. The early parts of the second half saw Stoke implement their physical superiority, as they had us on the back foot, the introduction of the tall Jordan Greenidge had our centre backs embroiled in a fierce battle, as they tried desperately to stop Greenidge and Campbell from getting through on goal.
Spurs still created a whole host of chances, an off balance Sterling seeing his effort blocked at the other end, whilst Bennett’s showed great technique as he whipped a free kick over the wall, forcing a good reaction save out of Allen. Bennett’s should have put the game out of sight late on when he received the ball inside the box, but his first time effort flew high over the crossbar. Spurs would regret their missed opportunities, as Stoke grabbed a dramatic late equaliser through Greenidge, the striker burst past our defence before tucking the ball low past Austin and into the net, 2-2! Both sides threatened late on but the spoils were shared, in what was a very competitive and highly entertaining game of football. The lads played well, they dealt with a physical Stoke side well for the most part, it’s worth remembering that Spurs were without key players such as Shashoua and Tanganga, but the team were really unlucky today and probably deserved all 3 points.

Additional notes: The media attention might have all been on the England national team who were training at Hotspur Way, but Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino made time to watch the first half of today’s game. Top scorer Jack Roles was sidelined for today’s match through injury, whilst I also noticed that centre half Jonathan Dinzeyi was on crutches, in an injury that he must have picked up whilst on international duty with England under 17’s. On a positive note, it was good to see goalkeeper Jonathan De Bie sitting amongst the substitutes. The promising Belgian keeper suffered a ruptured spleen whilst playing for Belgium under 17’s a few months ago. The under 18’s are in action again, next Saturday as they take on Middlesbrough at the Teesside clubs rockliffe park training ground.

Player review:
– Brandon Austin: Had a good game, was very good in the air and made a couple of fine saves throughout the game.
– Matt Lock: Solid defensive performance from the right back, also good going forward.
– Jaden Brown: Impressive display, made some vital blocks and interceptions.
– Tariq Hinds: The right back adapted very well to midfield and put in a fine performance as a holding midfielder.
– George Marsh: The captain filled in well at centre back, Marsh was commanding and incredibly focused as he made a selection of fantastic challenges.
– Oliver Skipp: The 16 year old put in a man of the match performance at centre half, composed throughout. Skipp made numerous key interceptions, his tackle late on in the second half was exceptional.
– Reo Griffiths: Powerful performance from Griffiths on the right wing, tested the goalkeeper on a couple of occasions.
– Dylan Duncan: Despite being at fault for Stokes’s first, Duncan had a good game in midfield. Showed good movement.
– Kazaiah Sterling: Incredibly high work rate throughout the game, Sterling was constantly on the move and made some nice runs, deserved a goal.
– Jamie Reynolds: Had a great first half, which saw him net his first goal of the season.
– Keanan Bennetts: One of the games standout performers, Bennetts was exceptional throughout the first half, his fantastic crossing resulting in the opener.
– Juan Pablo Gonzalez Velasco: Decent 20 minute cameo, constantly looking to get forward.
– Nick Tsaroulla: Attacked well at his less natural position of right back.
– Phoenix Patterson: A good performance from the under 16, his silky skills and good vision showing exactly why his such an exciting prospect.
My man of the match: Young midfielder Oliver Skipp. Skipp filled in incredibly well alongside George Marsh at centre half, the immensely talented midfielder read the game so well, making some fantastic challenges. Tidy throughout, Skipp looks like an experienced player but the fact that his still a schoolboy makes his performance all the more impressive.
Spurs U18s: Austin, Lock (Tsaroulla 60), Brown, Hinds, Marsh (c), Skipp, Griffiths (Gonzalez-Velasco 70), Duncan, Sterling, Reynolds (Patterson 60), Bennetts.

Substituted (not used): Omolabi, Freeman (GK).

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